The US Fifth Fleet said on Thursday that its vessels in the Middle East have received distress calls from two tankers reportedly under attack in the Gulf of Oman.

"We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman," said a statement from the Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain.

"US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 am. local time and a second one at 7:00 am," the statement said.

"US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance." 

Iran said its navy rescued 44 crew members from the two oil tankers.

"Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask," IRNA quoted an "informed source" as saying.

The Norwegian tanker Front Altair said it was "attacked"  between the UAE and Iran, with three explosions reported on board.

Another reported attack in the same zone targeted the vessel Kokuka Courageous, the Norwegian Maritime Authority said in a statement.

Last month the US deployed the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (picture) to the Gulf of Oman along with an additional 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East owing to what it said was a credible threat. It did not reveal the source of the threat but a number of tankers were damaged in attacks with limpet mines shortly after.